Cancer Types, Treatment and Effects

Introduction

Over the last century, increased numbers of cancer cases have been reported in the world. Cancers are the diseases in which uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells occur and possess the ability to invade other tissues. In malignant cancers or tumours, the cells metastasize to other body organs causing severe damage to the tissues (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2010). There are over 200 different types of cancers with each having specific characteristics and symptoms thus necessitating different approaches to their management and treatment. The most common symptoms and signs in cancer are swellings, ulceration and jaundice. Metastasis results in enlargement of affected organs and lymph nodes, anaemia and neurological symptoms (American Cancer Society, 2010). This essay will look into the various types of cancers, treatments and their effects to the human body.

Cancers causes, diagnosis and treatment

The major causes of cancers include hormonal imbalances, hereditary, mutations, immunological and infection by viruses. Cancers develop through a chain of abnormal processes in the cell cycle. The spread of cancerous cells through the blood system is referred to as metastasis (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2010). Early detection of cancerous cells is paramount in the effective treatment and cure. Various ways have been devised to help in the detection of early signs and symptoms of the cancers. They include imaging, screening, endoscopy, tissue sampling, imaging and conducting testing on blood and other samples. Imaging techniques currently in use include x-rays, magnetic response imaging (MRI), positrons emission tomography, CT scans and ultrasound scans (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2010). Tissues’ sampling through biopsy and then checking the cells under a microscope is the most certain way of diagnosing cancer in the body.

Classification of cancers

Cancers are classified according to the type of cell that causes it before turning to a tumour cell. The most common categories include the sarcomas, carcinomas, lymphoma and leukaemia, blastoma and germ cell tumour. Carcinomas are tumours affecting epithelial cells while sarcomas are derivatives of the connective tissues. Blastoma is manifested in embryonic tissues, germ cell tumour in totipotent cells of the ovary and testicle, while lymphoma is derived from the blood forming cells (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2010).

Only less than 50 of the 200 types of cancers have significant morbidity and mortality. Non melanoma recorded the highest incidences with more than 1,000,000 cases recorded in 2009. In 2009, more than 190, 000 new cases of breast cancer, 219,000 cases of lung cancers and around 190,000 cases of prostate cancers were recorded in the United States. Other common cancers include colorectal, lung and bronchus, leukaemia, endometrial, pancreatic, bladder, kidney and pelvis, ovary and urinary bladder cancers (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2010).

Endometrial cancers affect the tissues lining of the uterine walls. The most at risk groups include women suffering from obesity and endometrial hyperplasia. Obesity results in high production of oestrogen that predisposes the women to cancers. Women who are above 50 years are more likely to develop the cancer. This is exacerbated by conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Long term usage of oestrogen doses without combining with progesterone is another predisposing factor. Women of African American origin and those suffering from colorectal cancer are more likely to develop endometrial cancer. Increased and unusual bleeding or discharges from the vagina is the most common symptom in women. Women suffering from uterine cancers experience painful urinations and erratic pains during intercourses and in the pelvic areas. (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2009).

Diagnosis of uterine cancers is usually through a pap smear and pelvic examination to ascertain the health conditions of the vagina and the uterus. Ultrasound of the uterus followed by a biopsy is also instrumental in the detection of this type of cancer. radiation therapy is the preferred method of treating uterine cancer. High energy rays are used in internal and external radiation and directed at the tumour cells in a span of several weeks. However, surgery is also recommended particularly when the cancer has not spread to the adjoining organs such as the cervix. The removal of the uterus, ovaries and the fallopian tubes is done in order to stop the spread of the cancerous cells.

Treatment based on diagnosis and classification

Classification of cancers is mainly dependent on the histology of the tumour. The cancer is given the name of the type of cell that is similar in morphology and other characteristics. The tissue that releases this cell is also important in classification and in treatment. Definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment is also informed by the understanding of the genetic abnormalities in the tissues of the uterus. Therefore, the understanding of the histology and location in relation to the uterine cancer is vital in initiation of treatment. Prognosis is also influenced by the histological grading and to some extent the presence of molecular markers found only in specific types of cancers (Persson et al, 1989, P.149-153). This is helpful in ascertaining the stage the cancer is, with a view of adopting the best treatment option. The physicians also know the extent of the treatment and the duration of the treatment plan for the uterine cancer. It also helps the patient to benefit from information on the side effects of the treatment options and ways of alleviating them.

The improvements in the field of molecular and cellular biology due to increased research have enhanced the invention of better and effective treatment options for endometrial cancers. Treatment options such as surgery are recommended when the cancer is at its early stage while radiotherapy and chemotherapy are best for late stage cancers. This is important in preventing and controlling other conditions that are responsible of causing adverse effects to the individual (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2009). For instance, the addition of progesterone in the utilisation of oestrogen therapy has been driven by case studies that point out that the former decreases the risk of endometrial cancer (Persson et al, 1989, P.149-153).

The staging of the uterine cancer is imperative in the choice of treatment. Staging involves the determination of the extent of spread the disease has achieved by conducting tests such as blood and urine tests. This allows the clinician to know whether to utilise surgery or radiation as the mode of treatment. The treatment plan is also informed by the information collected in the diagnosis, the stage and the patient’s preferences. The size of the tumour also greatly influences the treatment choice and plan. Uterine cancer management also takes into consideration factors such as the age and the overall general health of the woman (U.S National Cancer Institute, 2009). The extent of the uterine tumour is important in the accurate calibration of the amounts of radiation to boost the chances of recovery.

The main treatment options for endometrical cancers include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, biological therapy and hormone therapy. The treatments have varying degrees of success depending on the stage of cancer under treatment. Nonetheless, the treatment options have serious side effects to the body of the patient. Chemotherapy is associated with sleep disorders, mouth sores, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Delirium leading to inattentiveness and loss of memory, and constipation are also common in patients (American Cancer Society, 2010).

Cancer treatment leads to decreased sexual desire in women, premature ejaculation or even loss of erection in men. Women and men lose their sexual desires immediately after undergoing chemotherapy. Surgery around the pelvic region can damage the nerves thus interfering with the blood flow to the uterus. A high level of distress is witnessed in patients on chemotherapy thus impacting negatively on their lives. Women may also lose their fertility due to interference of hormonal balance and damage to the nerves. Vulnerability to diseases and hair loss are also common in patients undergoing chemotherapy for a long time. Proper advice on practical steps to cope with the side effects should be given to the patient to ensure the treatment schedule is not interrupted (American Cancer Society, 2010).

Conclusion

Cancers bring a lot of suffering to humans. Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is important in the effective management of the condition. Availability of treatment options ensures that patients receive quality care to help relieve the pain. The adoption of research and utilisation of histological grading and radiation dosing has impacted greatly on efficacy of uterine cancer. The side effects from the treatment options should be taken into consideration before commencement of the routine treatment. Practical steps should be devised to ensure that the side effects are managed so that the treatment is not interrupted. There is need to come up with sensitization campaigns to encourage early diagnosis in order to lower the cost burden and loss of lives.

Reference

American Cancer Society. (2009). Cancer Facts and Figures 2009. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society.

American Cancer Society. (2010). Coping with Physical and Emotional Changes. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Web.

Persons, I., Adami, H., Bergkvist, L., Lindgren, A., Pettersson, B.,Hoover, R. & Schairer. (1989). Risk of endometrial cancer after treatment with oestrogens alone or in conjunction with progestogens: results of a prospective study. British Medical Journal, 298, 147-151.

U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. (2010). United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2006 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute. Web.

U.S National Cancer Institute. (2010). Cancers. Web.